For most people who experience a mosquito bite, it’s usually an itchy but temporary nuisance and is quickly forgotten. For others, just one mosquito can permanently change their lives or even result in death. Malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika are responsible for killing more than 750,000 people a year, and many of the victims are children. Jeremy Renner (The Town, The Hurt Locker) serves as narrator for a special that is bringing to light the current state of affairs regarding mosquitoes and the global threat they pose.
Researchers and scientists believe that several factors, including climate change and the ease of international travel, are responsible for increasing the deadly threat that mosquitoes pose to humans. Mosquitoes and the diseases they carry are spreading from Florida to Texas and all the way up to Washington, D.C. and New York. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Discovery turns its attention to what is described as “the single greatest agent of death in modern human history.”
“For more than 30 years, Discovery’s mission has been to ignite viewers curiosity, spark dialogue and encourage action on critical topics through our world-class storytelling and brands across 220 countries and territories,” says David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications.
“Mosquito sounds a worldwide alarm about the need for bold steps to address this increasingly urgent threat. As a purpose-driven company, we are proud to leverage the strength of our unmatched television and digital services in all corners of the globe to call on citizens and worldwide leaders alike to act.”
Mosquito also features interviews with leading experts, including former CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden, as well as a special interview with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Red Carpet Crash shared that Gates points out that the resources needed to fight a deadly pandemic makes this a global health priority.
“Discovery is at its best taking a global problem and showcasing its effects on individuals and their local communities,” says Rich Ross, group president of Discovery, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and Velocity. “The spread of Mosquito-borne illnesses in places they have never been has the potential to change the world as we know it. Mosquito shines a spotlight on this rapidly moving issue, giving audiences the tools to understand and prepare for a new world.”
The film is shot on four continents and interlaces interviews with personal stories of people such as a father and son who live in a remote village in Kenya. Both came down with malaria and as the father carries his son on his back to the hospital, he wonders how they contracted the disease despite using malaria nets to keep them from being bit and infected. The film also follows Leslie Meiners, a mother who became infected with the West Nile Virus in her own neighborhood in Queens, NY.
Mosquito also follows Scott and Lindsay Fuhrman from Miami, Florida, who have decided to quarantine themselves in their home. They have a young daughter, and with another on the way, they are afraid of contracting the Zika virus. “It’s summer in Miami and we are cooped up scared to go outside,” Lindsay explains. The family also expresses their frustration with lawmakers. “Our government failed,” Scott says. “They thought this was a fantasy. We all saw it coming and they refused to help us.”
The fear of contracting Zika is a valid one, with over 2.5 billion people currently at risk of experiencing a potential outbreak, which would cost over an estimated $500 billion. These numbers are sobering, but there are many people who are dealing with the effects of the disease now. One young mother in Brazil, Ane Juliana Araujo, worries that the virus may affect her unborn child as she cares for a baby born with Zika. Frieden states in the special that “There are so many diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes. We are going to have to come up with new, better combined ways to stopping the mosquito to protect ourselves not just from Zika… but also whatever else might come next.”
Discovery takes this issue seriously, and along with the worldwide TV broadcast of Mosquito, Discovery and CARE2 will be collaborating on a petition that calls for all citizens worldwide to encourage their leaders to act before it is too late. The film will air in over 220 countries and territories around the globe, and it will also air in Spanish on Discovery’s Spanish-language channel, Discovery en Español.
Will you be watching this special? Leave your comments, thoughts, and opinions below. Mosquito airs on Thursday, July 6, at 9 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel.
[Featured Image by Discovery Channel]